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Eat Right Campaign

July 11, 2020, 11:38 a.m. by Dr.Anuradha Majumdar ( 498 views)

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If it is not safe, it is not food

  1. •Food Safety is an important aspect of public health. Eating safe & eating right is the key to good health. Let’s look at the present scenario; globally there are 60 crores cases of foodborne illnesses, 18 lakh deaths occur annually. This may be translated to one in ten people falling ill from food-related illnesses and out of these 40% are children below five years. The national scenario is 10 crores foodborne illnesses annually as per the 2011 survey though the actual figure maybe more.
  2. •Unsafe food and water and lack of proper hygiene & sanitation lead to foodborne illnesses, absenteeism at work, and consequently loss of productivity.
  3. •Foodborne diseases impede socioeconomic development by straining healthcare systems and harming national economies, tourism, and trade.
  4. •Access to a sufficient amount of safe & nutritious food is the key to sustaining life and promoting good health.
  5. •The way food is produced, stored, handled, and consumed affects the safety of our food.
  6. •The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is playing a key role in addressing these food-related risk factors.
  7. •To prevent food-related illnesses, FSSAI sets science-based, globally benchmarked standards for food products and processes that include Food Safety Management Systems for each step of the food value chain.

Consumer awareness initiative

  1. •To educate consumers FSSAI has launched Food Smart Consumer Portal and a manual to detect common adulteration in food called the DART book.
  2. •Safe & Nutritious Food Initiative (SNF) to bring social & behavioral change among citizens.
  3. •To combat malnutrition, anemia & micronutrient malnutrition, fortification of staple foods, such as rice, wheat flour, milk, oil, and salt is an effective and economic solution.
  4. •Reducing consumption of high fat, salt, and sugar can prevent several non-communicable diseases.
  5. •Repeated heating of oil leads to changes in the physicochemical, nutritional, and sensory properties of the oil. It leads to the formation of Total Polar Compounds which make the oil unfit for human consumption beyond a certain limit.
  1. Food fortification is focused on large-scale fortification of 5 staple foods namely rice & wheat flour with B12, Folic acid, iron, oil & milk with Vit A & D and salt with iodine & iron to prevent micronutrient malnutrition. Consumer awareness campaigns are on-going to create demand for fortified foods as value-added products. All packaged fortified food bears the F+ logo.
  2. Reduce HFSS (high fat, salt, sugar): Reduction of fat, sugar, and salt in the daily diet prevent non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases. The program targets both the supply and demand side. On the supply side, it nudges industry partners to reformulate their food products to reduce the content of sugar, salt & saturated fat, introduce healthier options, promote healthier options through good retails practices, and introduce menu-labeling to empower consumers to make informed choices. On the demand side, the ‘Aaj Se Thoda Kam’ nudges citizens gradually reduce salt, fat & sugar.
  3. Trans Fat-Free India – Our target is freedom from trans fat by 2022 to prevent non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases. Trans Fatty Acid (TFA) content should not be more than 5% by weight in four categories of fats & oils (vanaspati, bakery shortening, margarine, and vegetable fat). FSSAI proposed to limit trans fats to not more than 2% by weight of all fats & oils by January, 2022.
  4. No food waste-donation of surplus food: One-third of the food supply could be saved by reducing food waste that's enough to feed 3 billion people. In India, about Rs.340 crore worth of food is wasted in metros alone in the food served in functions and ceremonies. On average, Rs.6-7 lakh worth of food is thrown away by an average hotel each year. This can feed about 50 lakh people who go to bed hungry every night.

•We too can contribute to reducing global hunger:-

  1. •As an individual, take a small portion at a time and finish what’s on your plate.
  2. •At home, school, and workplace target to reduce food waste.
  3. •As a host of lunch/dinner on special occasions and functions, sign up for ‘A small gesture, a big difference initiative’.
  4. •Donate surplus food.

The initiative includes a network of 50 Surplus Food Distribution Organizations known as the ‘Indian Food Sharing Alliance’ (IFSA). The vision is to increase awareness and encourage food donation thereby decrease food waste.

•Used Cooking Oil (UCO): the practice of reheating cooking oil or using the same cooking oil for frying is common. Cooking oil is often repeatedly used by topping it up with fresh oil. Generally, big food businesses involved in the manufacturing of fried foods dispose of their used cooking oil (UCO) for industrial purposes (soap manufacture, etc.) but sometimes it finds a way to small food vendors at cheap prices. Repeated heating of oil leads to changes in the physicochemical, nutritional, and sensory properties of the oil. It leads to the formation of Total Polar Compound (TPC) which makes the oil unfit for human consumption beyond certain limits. Reports have related these compounds to several diseases such ashypertension, atherosclerosis. Alzheimer’s disease, liver disease,etc.

At the household level or by road-side vendors, the UCO is discarded in an environmentally hazardous manner blocking the sewerage and drainage systems. Therefore, in order to safeguard public health, FSSAI notified the limit of Total Polar compounds (TPC), not more than 25% beyond which the oil is unsafe for human consumption.

Things to be practiced:-

  1. •Reheating & Reuse of cooking oil should be avoided.
  2. •In case of reheating of oil, use maximum 3 times to avoid the formation of trans fat. It is ideal to use once.
  3. •Discard cooking oil when blue-grey smoke appears or tough foam is formed or the oil becomes dark/consistency changes.
  4. •Discard cooking oil having developed TPC>25%
  5. •Do not discard the oil in drains/sewerage systems.
  6. •UCO should be discarded in an environmentally friendly way preferably by providing it to the authorized UCO aggregators/collection agencies such as State biodiesel boards/Biodiesel Association of India. This oil will be utilized for biodiesel production.
  7. •All Food Business Operators with oil consumption for frying is >50 kg per day shall maintain records and provide these to authorized UCO aggregators.
  8. •Small quantities at the household may be discarded after mixing the oil with sand/sawdust/paper towel and then throw in dustbins.

Food safety is a vast and diverse subject with enumerable components. I just touched upon a few important aspects and the governments (FSSAI) initiatives as of now.

The takeaway message may be:If it is not safe, it is not food.Consumption of safe and wholesome food is a powerful tool for enabling a healthy & productive life. India is going through an epidemiological shift from communicable to non-communicable diseases, particularly the rising incidence of diet-related diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. India faces a silent epidemic today of an increase in childhood obesity coupled with under nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. This requires people to take responsibility for their actions, and hence a people’s movement on eating right is essential.

For all food-related queries and complaints go to the link www.fssai.gov.in

For license & registration of food business www.foodlicensing.fssai.gov.in


-Dr.Anuradha Majumdar

MBBS from SCB Medical college in 1988

Joined Tripura government health services in 1990

Joined Indian Army on deputation for 5 years 1997 to 2002 and participated in OP Vijay and OP Parakram.

Worked with WHO as a consultant for a very short span.

Again joined back Tripura government health services and continued till date.

Presently, working as Deputy food safety commissioner of Tripura.

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